Living among lions

Living among lions
Austin Walker
Austin Walker Austin is the retired pastor of Maidenbower Baptist Church, Crawley. He is currently a member of Castlefields Church, Derby and an occasional preacher.
14 March, 2024 8 min read

(v. 16); the suffering servant cries out, ‘Deliver me from the sword, my precious life from the power of the Living among lions is hazardous, posing a serious threat to life and limb. David was on the run, hiding in a cave, hunted like a partridge on the mountains by Saul. He felt as if he was being swallowed up by the repeated reproaches of men set against him.

Pouring out his heart to God he declared, ‘My soul is among lions; I lie among the sons of men who are set on fire, whose teeth are spears and arrows, and their tongue a sharp sword’ (Psalm 57:4). David felt this oppression acutely as he was hounded by his enemies.

Doeg was no friend of David. He heaped slander and abuse on David, aiming to discredit and destroy him with wicked words (Psalm 52:1-4). It was like living among bloodthirsty lions whose only intention was to attack their victims and kill them.

It was a war with words, and those words were like spears, arrows, and swords. They wounded and had the potential to kill. David was under attack and on the painful end of slander, malice, hatred, reproach, blind prejudice, false assumptions, and false accusations. Malicious men are well-armed to do evil. Spurgeon quipped, ‘No weapon is so terrible as a tongue sharpened on the devil’s grindstone.’

The prophets

David’s experience is far from unique. It is the common lot of all who would be faithful to God. Elijah was labelled as a troublemaker by Ahab and Jezebel (1 Kings 18:17-18), and Jezebel vented her hatred and anger against God’s servant.

Jeremiah was often falsely accused. Those opposed to him jumped to wrong conclusions. Irijah, the captain of the guard, accused him of being a traitor and defecting to the Chaldeans (Jeremiah 37:13-14). The prophet suffered physical abuse and was put in prison.

The apostles

The apostle Peter warns his readers that they will suffer by being accused and reviled: ‘They defame you as evildoers’ and ‘revile your good conduct’ (1 Peter 3:16).

Paul was no stranger to similar prejudicial judgments. Deep-seated Jewish prejudice led them to assume that the very presence in Jerusalem of Trophimus (a Greek) with Paul meant that the latter must have taken him into the temple and defiled the holy place (Acts 21:27-29).

The apostle was subjected to mob-violence, a physical beating, and bitter hatred. He was only rescued from death by the intervention of the Roman commander.

The Lord Jesus Christ

No one suffered more hatred and wrongdoing than our Lord Jesus Christ. Psalm 22 speaks of the sufferings of the Messiah. He was confronted by threatening wild animals – bulls, enraged lions, and wild dogs: ‘Many bulls have surrounded me; strong bulls of Bashan have encircled me. They gape at me with their mouths, like a raging and roaring lion’ (Psalm 22:12-13).

The dogs close in for the kill dog. Save me from the lion’s mouth and from the horns of the wild oxen!’ (vv. 20–21).

His explanation

Is this the common experience of Christians of every age? It most certainly is. It may vary in intensity, but ‘all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution (2 Timothy 2:12).

It is the Lord Jesus himself who explains why this is the case for all his disciples. He uncovered the reason why the Jews tried to kill him: ‘because my word has no place in you’ (John 8:37).

There is a radical difference between true disciples who hear and receive Christ’s words and those who do not hear his words because they are not of God (John 8:47).

His words clashed with their preconceived ideas and prejudices. They were ready to lay hands on him, to kill him, and took up stones to throw at him (vv. 20, 37, 59). Jesus exposed their wicked inclinations  which so quickly turned to hatred and thoughts of murder.

He explained all this to his disciples as he prepared them for his departure. As a faithful pastor he was explaining what they would experience. ‘A servant is not greater than his master,’ he reminds them. So ‘if they persecuted me, they will also persecute you. If they kept my word, they will keep yours also’ (John 15:20).

‘The world will hate you, but then you know it hated me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love its own. Yet because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you (vv. 18–19).

There is a radical difference between the world and the disciples. That difference hinges on the fact that Jesus chose them out of the world and that they have received his word. The hatred of the world has no basis in truth. The prejudice is deep-rooted in the wicked and evil disposition of the heart against Christ, against his Father and his words.

Quoting the Psalms again, Jesus says ‘They hated me without a cause’ (v. 25). It is a hatred which has no reasonable foundation.


Woke cultural ideology is one of the biggest challenges facing Christians today and is a clear expression of the hatred of the world. If you are confronted and attacked by adherents of woke ideology then you will probably find yourself among the lions and feel the sharpness of their teeth as well as suffer wounds from their swords and spears.

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